SW025Molasses is:

(a) an awesome natural sweetener

(b) an example of how slow I’ve been at getting a new post up.  Badum-ching!  Cue laugh track.

How about all of the above?

Friends!  I know, I know.  I’ve been gone for far too long.  It’s been a busy couple of weeks – full of work craziness, business travels, fun travels, friends in town, etc.  And this post just sat on my To Do list.  And sat.  And sat.

And molasses doesn’t deserve that!  It treated me so well in my Walnut Molasses Whole Wheat Bread.  It’s only right that I return the favor and write it up for you all!  So here goes.

Molasses is the thick by-product from the processing of sugar cane into suger.  It has a syrupy texture, dark, caramel color and robust, bittersweet flavor.  Quick history…It was first imported into the U.S. from the Caribbean during colonial times – for use in rum!  It was a very popular sweetener until the late 19th century because, at the time, it was much more affordable than refined sugar.  But when refined sugar got cheaper, molasses was displaced.  It still has a fan in me!

To make molasses, the sugar cane plant is harvested and its juice is extracted.  The juice is then boiled, which causes the sugar to crystallize. This happens in three different stages.  When this first boiling is over and the sugar crystals are removed, you have first molasses, or light molasses.  Light molasses has the highest sugar content of all types of molasses because not much sugar has been taken out.  Second molasses, or dark molasses, comes from the second boiling and crystal removal.  The third creates blackstrap molasses, which has the least amount of sugar of all the molasses types.  Blackstrap molasses is pretty great.  Extracting all the sugar leaves behind a bunch of good stuff – manganese, copper, iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium.  Vitamins and minerals galore!

Molasses can be sulfured or unsulfured.  But go for the unsulfured.  That means the fumes used in processing the sugar aren’t retained as sulfur in the molasses.  No one wants that!

Molasses is about 65% as sweet as refined sugar.  If you want to substitute it in your recipes, your best bet is to use it in place of brown sugar.  The flavor profile and moisture content of molasses lend themselves well to this swap.  Try 1 cup molasses for every 3/4 cup brown sugar.  Molasses can also be used cup for cup in place of honey, agave nectar or maple syrup.  The taste will obviously change, but it could make for some fun experiments!

Do you use molasses in your baking?  What’s your favorite recipe?

21 Responses to “Molasses”

  1. 1 Alison May 18, 2009 at 10:28 pm

    Thanks for the info! I like the way that molasses tastes in baked goods. But I’ve found that it smells horrible when raw and doesn’t taste good when mixed with other things unless cooked.

  2. 2 Hangry Pants May 18, 2009 at 10:30 pm

    I love molasses, especially in bread and cookies.

  3. 3 Amy May 18, 2009 at 10:32 pm

    Love molasses! I do agree that it doesn’t have the best smell, but it is a great and nutritious sweetener.

    I read somewhere that you can combine something like sucanat (or white sugar though we don’t use that 😉 ) and molasses to make brown sugar in a recipe. Have you heard anything about that?

  4. 4 Gena May 19, 2009 at 6:42 am

    Molasses is great! And blackstrap molasses is a fabulous source of iron.

  5. 5 Ashlea May 19, 2009 at 11:34 am

    I love molasses to as an alternative to refined sugar! I have found a great recipe for naturally sweetened banana walnut muffins that uses molasses. I will find it and get back to you!

  6. 6 Lindsey (Mrs. LC) May 19, 2009 at 4:37 pm

    Mmm, molasses! And don’t worry for being “as slow as molasses” haha, it sounds like you’ve been living it up and having tons of fun! That’s what life’s all about! 🙂

  7. 7 Sharon May 19, 2009 at 9:09 pm

    I have actually tried molasses once in making gingerbread cookies =D

  8. 8 sweetandnatural May 20, 2009 at 10:31 am

    Alison – Molasses definitely doesn’t have the most delightful smell!

    Hangry Pants – Ginger cookies? 🙂

    Amy – I hadn’t heard about that combining trick. But I think Sucanat acts a lot like brown sugar already since it still contains the sugar cane molasses. And brown sugar is just white sugar with molasses added back in!

    Gena – Yay iron in sweet form!

    Ashlea – I’d love that recipe!

    Lindsey (Mrs. LC) – Fun, yes. Work, YES. The fun part helps keep me sane. 🙂

    Sharon – Very necessary!

  9. 9 Maria May 20, 2009 at 4:21 pm

    Aggh, molasses the good stuff!

  10. 10 Danielle May 20, 2009 at 8:21 pm

    Well, welcome back 🙂

    I’ve actually never used molasses but apparently I should. Thanks for the info!

  11. 11 Meghan Telpner May 20, 2009 at 9:49 pm

    I see molasses in recipes all the time but have yet to try it. I think it may just be time. Thanks for the reminder and inspiration.

  12. 12 Angela May 20, 2009 at 10:06 pm

    I luuurve molasses. The best chocolate chip cookies I make use molasses as the ‘secret’ ingredients! It makes them super moist and chewy. 🙂

  13. 13 Coconutgal May 21, 2009 at 12:02 pm

    Loving your blog! Everything looks totally yummy 🙂

  14. 14 Shannon (The Daily Balance) May 21, 2009 at 3:50 pm

    thanks for sharing all this info! I’ve used molasses a few times and LOVED it!

  15. 15 eatingbirdfood May 21, 2009 at 8:15 pm

    I really like molasses- my favorite recipe if for a ginger snap cookie with molasses.

  16. 16 Erin May 21, 2009 at 9:18 pm

    Fabulous joke, mah dear.
    I just love molasses. It’s such a nutritious sweetener!

  17. 17 Bec May 22, 2009 at 11:09 pm

    yup some of my favorite cookies of molasses in them!

  18. 18 Jessica May 26, 2009 at 6:25 pm

    I vote for cookies! One of my favorite cookie recipes is for a molasses sugar cookie…it is delicious and really shows off that molasses flavor.

  19. 19 Melissa May 27, 2009 at 11:01 am

    very informative. I have never used molasses, although Ellie Kriegar recommends it highly! I hope your travels were fun!

  20. 20 Ellen (Peace in Motion) May 28, 2009 at 4:46 pm

    I stumbled upon your blog and your goodies look delicious! I recently discovered how much I love baking with molasses. I find that it adds a depth of flavor that other sweeteners just cannot mimick.

    love love love it in blondies, but it’s also a great addition to cookies!

  21. 21 sweetandnatural May 28, 2009 at 5:00 pm

    Maria – YUM!

    Danielle – Thank you! Try it out – it adds a nice depth to your goodies.

    Meghan Telpner – Let me know what you think!

    Angela – Totally agree. 🙂

    Coconutgal – Thanks so much!

    Shannon (The Daily Balance) – I’m trying to find more and more ways to use it. One, because I have an open container! But more importantly, because it really adds something!

    eatingbirdfood – Molasses is a star ingredient in that one!

    Erin – Or should I say Emeril? 😛

    Bec – Cookies are a great place for molasses!

    Jessica – That sounds awesome!

    Melissa – Thanks! Some were fun, some were work. But it all balances out! 🙂

    Ellen (Peace in Motion) – Welcome! Molasses in blondies sounds perfect! I must try.

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